Indigenous-settler relations, sovereignty, and legalities have a long and tumultuous history in Canada. Unfortunately, this means that the average Canadian does not have the context nor perspective to understand this history, resulting in widespread acceptance of half-truths, racial bias, and a lack of empathy towards different cultures. On the positive side, a wealth of peer-reviewed literature exists in the academic ethos that can assist in closing the gap that exists in Indigenous-settler relations. One of the best examples of this literature can be found in James Frideres’ newest book, “Arrows in a Quiver: From Contact to the Courts in Indigenous-Canadian Relations.” This literature is also complimented very well by the striking painting found on the cover of this book, provided by artist Lawerence Paul Yuxweliptun.
This 2019 release by the University of Regina Press discusses the implications of a colonial government structure in Canada and how a restructuring of many policies and the structure that systematically represses Indigenous people must take place in order for reconciliation to occur. However, the book is not all on the deficits that Indigenous people face. The title in itself, “Arrows in a Quiver”, refers to the tools that Indigenous people in Canada are utilizing to make these reforms such as grassroots political movements, nonviolent protest, engagement with provincial and federal politics, and Indigenizing Canadian law at the courtroom level. Frideres expertly provides the historical and legal contexts required for any reader, regardless of education on Indigenous-Canadian relations, to understand the necessities that are required in Canadian legal reform to achieve reconciliation. As one may guess, this book is chock full of Canadian laws and policies both historical and current but do not need to be intimidated by this fact. Unlike other law texts that I have read, I found this book to be surprisingly easy to follow. Frideres finds the incredibly fine line between adequately describing law and not littering the text with jargon or an academic dialect that may alienate casual readers.
Not only does Frideres describe the laws and policies that affect Indigenous people in Canada but also actively applies them to examples via cases and academic research. The weight of this evidence truly makes this book feel like an in-depth review of the political and legal landscape in Canada and the level of care and research put into this book cannot be understated.
In conclusion, “Arrows in a Quiver” is a fantastic and enlightening read for anyone to further their understanding on Indigenous-settler relations and to become a part of the solution for the reconciliation that is needed to close the gap in our ever-divisive nation.
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